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Thieves Damage New Kensington Man's Wheelchair

NEW KENSINGTON (KDKA) -- Sixty-year-old Larry Dunkel, of New Kensington, says his specialized wheelchair is "everything to him" because he can't around without it.

The chair cost $6,700 and weighs 500 pounds. It was designed to help him even as his multiple sclerosis progresses.

But last week, during a 90-minute period, a thief swiped his chair out of the couple's fenced-in backyard.

The family searched for the chair for two days until Dunkel's wife Janet found it abandoned. It's damaged, muddy and had been left out in the rain, which may have damaged the sensitive electrical system.

Dunkel isn't supposed to even power it up until an expert can inspect it and see if it can repaired.

In the meantime, a company called Into New Hands from Wilkinsburg has donated another motorized wheelchair to the Dunkel's.

Mr. Dunkel appreciates it very much, but that chair isn't specifically designed for him, and he hopes his original chair can be repaired.

If it can't be fixed, the couple says their insurance will pay for a new one.

They suspect teenagers stole it and took it for a joyride until the battery ran out of power.

Police are investigating.

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